Title: The Trial of Hamato Splinter

Summery: "It was then Splinter knew what this was. This was a nightmare, a living nightmare that he was being tested on. He was being tested and his son's life was the object on the line."

Warnings: unbetad.

Rating: PG-13, for implied violence

Word Count: 1,724

Author's Note: Wrote this *months* ago, a part of a larger story that won't get written.

------------------------------

"M-master Splinter?"

The aged rat looked up in surprise, his eyes trying to adjust to the sight in front of him. There sat, well, more like sprawled, was a turtle, a large turtle void of his battle gear and his customary eye mask. Even without the cloth that normally covered his young son's eyes, he knew which child this one was. The questionable tenor voice was the same of his youth, inquisitive and hesitant.

"Donatello, what are you doing here?" Splinter inquired of his second youngest, who seemed just as startled to see him as Splinter was. The last the mutated rat remembered, he had settled down to meditate while his sons went on a scouting patrol.

"I'm…not sure," the brainy turtle stated, his voice soft with confusion and worry. Splinter could clearly see the distress on his son's face, his unmasked eyes darted back and forth, as if he were trying to come up with a way to explain the situation. Splinter allowed his son the time he needed to gather his thoughts to look around himself, too. The place the ninja master had gone to during his meditation was a mixture of his new world and of his old. The furnishings of the room were clearly the same as his room in the sewers, with candles and incense littering the floor with Japanese paintings and artifacts and his sons' drawings from their childhood graced the walls, though the room itself was not of that that any sewer housed. While his memory of his early days with Master Yoshi and Tang Shen were not the clearest, he did remember the comfort of his Master's house, how he had liked to roam around the room while his Human companions would leave and he had the freedom to wonder about. Before any more fond thoughts were provoked, Donatello's hesitant voice broke through Splinter's thoughts and he stared at his son once again.

"We had a battle. A-a fight" Don stated, his eyes to the floor, his face scrunched up in concentration. "A-a street gang had tried to rob a store, I think…and they ran…"

Sudden tension entered Splinter's spiritual body at his son's normally precision words seemed slightly slurred and extremely unsure, as if he were having difficulties remembering events that sure just happened a few moments ago.

"But Raph went after them…yes, he was upset because one of the owners were hurt and…" Don's eyes went wide, as if what he remembered was upsetting. "I tried to stop him…but he caught up with one of the guys…he grabbed him by the neck and…"

Don turned his eyes to his Sensei and the rat froze, fear dipping its claws deep into his heart. "I held on to Raph, trying to get him to get off of him and then…"

"My son…" Splinter had difficulties speaking past the lump in his throat. "What did Raphael do?"

"Raph?" Don asked, his head tilted to the side again. Apparently, his son lost his train of thought again, but he was struggling to find it again. Determination. It was the one thing this son had in abundance that kept him going when his skill and strength was lacking.

"He…didn't let go until I pushed him…I pushed him because of the light…"

"Light? What light, my son?" Don blinked rapidly, his eyes slowly loosing that clouded look, as if clarity was on its way.

"Yes, we were in an alley. Raph had chased him into an alley and I had followed. Raph pinned the guy against the wall and started to choke him. I tried to get him to stop when light flooded the alleyway…a car…A car started coming towards us…I pushed Raph and the guy down against the wall and I think I…I ran the other direction…then…" Don stopped, his eyes now wide with comprehension and fear.

"Then…" Splinter let his words trail away, almost not wanting to know the rest but knew he needed to know.

"I didn't move fast enough…the car came too fast…I think I got hit…there were flashes of…pain…and…I saw things, like when we were little and then I was older…but…I think…I think I'm dying…"

The revelation his Donatello's voice made Splinter's blood freeze. There was a slight panic to Don's voice now, something so strange in the normally calm and rational voice.

It was then Splinter knew what this was. This was a nightmare, a living nightmare that he was being tested on. He was being tested and his son's life was the object on the line.

As he watched, he saw Donatello tense up and start to shake, his breathing becoming rapid. "I'm dying…oh, God…Master, I'm dying!"

"Calm down, Donatello," Splinter said gently, his voice was soft and didn't portray any of the panic that was rising in himself. "Deep breaths, my son."

Donatello took in a shaky breath, his eyes still wild and panicked but his body was less tense than before. "What do I do, Sensei?"

Splinter took a breath of his own, hoping the shakiness that was starting to worm its way to his core wasn't showing. "You must choose, my son."

It was the only obvious thing, the rat thought. It was the only reason why Donatello was right now in the astroplane and not in the spirit world at this moment. Donatello was, as he had claimed, dying, but not dead yet.

"Ch-choose?" Don blinked, trying to understand his Master's words. Splinter frowned at his son's lack of comprehension, this son of all of them. Perhaps it was shock, which made the situation that much more difficult.

"To live, and feel the pain of this world, or to pass on, and be at peace." The words passed through Splinter's throat like sharp knives. How can he be so calm at the face of his son's demise? Why was he not begging his son to live for him, for his brothers…but…

His son's injuries, the ones that caused his spirit, the same spirit that was sitting before him, to leave his body, must be great and severe. Deadly…could he condemn his son to the pain he surely will feel if he chose to stay?

"What should I do, Sensei?" Donatello asked in his quiet voice and Splinter, despite the situation, felt touched. His intelligent son, his brilliant son, who knew more about this world than that of his worldly and wizened father, would ask for his advice, above all, moved him to his very core, and he felt unworthy of it.

"I-" Splinter started to speak, but his throat closed fast with emotion, "It is not my choice, my son…It is, and has always been yours. You must choose, and choose wisely. To stay would cause you great strife, I'm sure but you would have time with us and to see more of the Universe…to leave…you will experience something that is not found in this world and be at peace. To stay, you will fight and you will continue to know failures and success. To leave, you will never have to fight again."

It was then that Splinter knew the flaw in his words. Donatello, his beautiful son, his prodigy, knew answers to so many questions, to so many unknowns, still yearned to learn more.

His son had exclaimed to him at a very young age that he wanted to know everything. When Splinter had tried to explain to him that it was impossible to know everything, Donatello had shrugged and gave him his best smile.

"It doesn't hurt to try," Donatello stated before going back to the book he was reading.

And Donatello did try, every chance he got he tried to learn something. It made Splinter very proud to know, that even though his son knew his dream was impossible, he didn't stop trying to obtain it.

He knew he had given his son two options that would cause his young and eager mind would want to experience. His son, the most peaceful of his brood, craved tranquility and loathed the fighting he was forced into being just the being he was. He had to fight for survival and Splinter knew his son resented, even in its slightest, that aspect of his life, but he bore it, whether he thought the positive in his life greatly outweighed that negativity or he simply loved his family too much to abandon such a notion of living in peace without him.

But the option had arrived, and the ninja master knew his son would fully think upon the possibilities.

It was one of the flaws of his bright son's mind. He thought hard and deep about things, sometimes taking too much time to make a decision because he knew too well the consequences of said choice. So when stressed, his son would become indecisive.

And it was very safe to say that this was one of those stressful moments.

So Splinter had to sit there and helplessly watch his son chose between life and death, literally. He could see the facts and questions pass through his son's grey eyes, his choices moving closer and closer together, but the decision was still far off.

And Splinter knew that time was fading fast, that his choices were starting to become slimmer until in the end only one decision could be made and it would be too late if Donatello were to finally choose the other.

Splinter closed his eyes, and trying, but unsuccessful, to close his heart to this process. He knew he could only guide his son to the choices, but not the answer. That was his task, his one and only job in his son's battle, but he found it a burden that he could not bear. His son's life was in his hands, but he was not suppose to do anything but hold it until Donatello either took it back or let it go.

Honor battled with the love he felt for his child.

"Father?" Donatello whispered, fear was very prominent in those inquisitive eyes when Splinter looked at him again.

And Splinter found himself lacking…

"I'm sorry, my son…" Splinter said, a tear fell from his eye, "Forgive me."

And he physically pushed his son out of the astroplane.

---

Miles away, in the dark shadows of an alley, Donatello awoke to the greatest pain of his life.